In my previous article I demonstrated how to move one or more Active Directory user accounts to a new location organizational unit. Generally the driving factor with such moves is to enforce proper Group Policies. But perhaps your Group Policies are managed more at the group level. Or of course, group memberships are used for a variety of purposes. So instead of trying to manually find 1 or 1000 users and add them to a group

Again, I’ll assume you are running PowerShell 3.0 and have access to the Microsoft Active Directory module on your desktop.

Do it for one

In PowerShell, managing group membership is done from the group side using Add-ADGroupMember. You specify the name of the group and the name of the user account to add. Let’s take Al Fredo from our last example who was recently promoted. Now we need to add him to the Chicago Executive group. We can do this in two steps. First, get the user account.

PS C:\> $user = get-aduser afredo

Then add the account to the group.

PS C:\> Add-ADGroupMember "Chicago Executive" -Members $user

These two commands can be combined into a single expression.

PS C:\> Add-ADGroupMember "Chicago Executive" -Members (get-aduser afredo)

Let’s verify:

PS C:\> get-adgroupmember "Chicago Executive" | select name

Roy G. Biv
Al Fredo
Marilee Claessens
Lakesha Bartolini
Lewis Molek
George Washington

Do it for many

Are you getting an idea on how to do the same thing for many user accounts? Let’s say we are setting up a new distribution list for the Customer Service members we relocated last time. First, I need to create the group.

PS C:\> new-adgroup "Globomantics Customer Service" -GroupScope Global -GroupCategory Distribution -Path "OU=Groups,OU=Employees,DC=Globomantics,DC=local"

I can verify the group.

PS C:\> get-adgroup "Globomantics Customer Service"

DistinguishedName : CN=Globomantics Customer
GroupCategory     : Distribution
GroupScope        : Global
Name              : Globomantics Customer Service
ObjectClass       : group
ObjectGUID        : 846ce751-ac9c-44a0-88fd-b62a5f5a6718
SamAccountName    : Globomantics Customer Service
SID               : S-1-5-21-2552845031-2197025230-307725880-13105

Excellent. Now to use the same technique and get all of the customer service users.

PS C:\> $csusers = get-aduser -filter "department -eq 'Customer Service'"

And then add them to the group.

PS C:\> add-adgroupmember "Globomantics Customer Service" -Members $csusers

Or as before, I could combine this into a single expression.

PS C:\> add-adgroupmember "Globomantics Customer Service" -Members (get-aduser -filter "department -eq 'Customer Service'")

Just like that I added 14 user accounts to the new group.

PS C:\> get-adgroupmember "Globomantics Customer Service" | measure | select count


Now, imagine if this was 140 or 1400 user accounts spread out across your entire Active Directory!

Removing from a group

By the way, it is equally easy to remove members from the group. Let’s say the company is closing the Reno office and laying off the staff. Here’s who is in the group now.

PS C:\> Get-ADGroupMember "Globomantics Customer Service" | get-aduser –Properties City | Sort City | Select Name,City

Name                                      City
----                                      ----
Donella Males                             Chicago
Eddie Geasley                             Chicago
Dick Elftman                              Chicago
Dora Witsell                              Chicago
Flo Novelli                               Des Moines
Francis Harnes                            Des Moines
Gene Everman                              Des Moines
Floyd Piersol                             Des Moines
Graig Pfifer                              Des Moines
Herma Toher                               Reno
Hershel Warshaw                           Reno
Ellsworth Deutschman                      Tampa
Erika Laity                               Tampa
Emmanuel Umlauf                           Tampa

The Get-ADGroupMember cmdlet writes a brief user object to the pipeline which we can pipe back to Get-ADUser to get the city property.

We need to remove the Reno accounts from the distribution list so let’s modify the previous expression to get just the 2 Reno users.

PS C:\> $reno = Get-ADGroupMember "Globomantics Customer Service" | get-aduser -Properties City | where { $ -eq 'Reno'}
PS C:\> $
Hershel Warshaw
Herma Toher

In this situation we need to use Where-Object to do our filtering since we already have user accounts from Get-ADGroupmember but we need to pass them through a second filter for the city. Now that we’ve confirmed the names we can remove them from the group.

PS C:\> Remove-ADGroupMember "Globomantics Customer Service" -Members $reno

PowerShell will prompt you. If you want to skip the prompt do this:

PS C:\> Remove-ADGroupMember "Globomantics Customer Service" -Members $reno –confirm:$false

As I demonstrated in the previous article, if this is a common task in your environment you can take these commands and build a simple PowerShell tool.


A great deal of PowerShell is premised on this concept of getting a bunch of somethings and then doing some action on that collection. In this case, I got a bunch of user accounts that met some criteria and then did something with them: adding them to a group.

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If you are just starting out with PowerShell and the AD cmdlets, I encourage you to take the two steps at first to verify you are getting the accounts you want and then adding (or removing) them to a group.

  1. anirban 8 years ago

    one word “Awesome”. i am also trying to experiment some thing but not able to do.below i am mentioned :
    in my environment i have 30 distribution groups which is like a.dept,b.dept,c.dept,…etc. there is a user name “user 1” need to add this user to all this groups on single shot.

  2. Author
    Jeff Hicks 8 years ago

    See if something like this helps:
    get-adgroup -filter “Name -like ‘DL-Test*'” | Add-ADGroupMember -Members (Get-ADUser ashowers)

    if the the group names are all over the place, it will be much harder to do as a one line command.

  3. Melissa N Stevenson 3 years ago

    Hi there, new into programming. 

    I am working in Powershell and am having difficulty adding members to a certain group. 

    example being: add-adgroupmember "Mark Smith" -Members (get-aduser -filter "department -eg 'Students') 

    However this is not working for it either. I have tried a ton of different variations to this. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! 

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